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Picture from the Spark of the Year CompetitionSt Helens College proudly served as the host for the North West Regional HIP and SPARKS competition heats, held at our very own Green Energy Skills Centre.

The competitions search for the best up-and-coming industry talent from level 2 and 3 Plumbing and Heating and Electrical courses nationwide.

The College was pleased to welcome competitors from Colleges across the North West including, Riverside College, Chesire College South and West, Wigan and Leigh College, Burnley College and Trafford College

This year marks the first year St Helens College has hosted the event, and what better environment to host it in, than our brand new £500k Green Energy Skills Centre.

During the event, participants were tasked with completing a series of demanding tasks under timed conditions, showcasing the skills they've acquired in their respective courses or apprenticeships. Upon completion, they anxiously awaited as industry experts judged their work based on accuracy of measurements, pipe bending, material wastage, and quality of finish, which included assessing cleanliness of walls and safety practices.

The competition is not only a fantastic opportunity for the students, but for their tutors too, with CPD sessions and presentations from manufacturers including, Gerabit, Altecnic, Wilo, RWC and Conex, allowing them to brush up on their industry knowledge and learn about the latest industry developments. 

Competitions like this are so important to College’s, allowing students to gain real working experience, increase their confidence and gain recognition that can support them with career opportunities in the future.

This year, the College proudly presented five contestants, representing both our Knowsley and St Helens campuses. The participants included full time students Louis Robinson and Keigan Nee from Knowsley College, and apprentices, Blain Cavanagh from GLP Group Ltd, Hari Hussain from ACS Electrics Limited, Owen Stubbs from SLM Plumbing and Hearing Ltd, and Kian Milroy from MGH Electrical.

All five learners displayed an excellent calibre of work and the overall standard of work from all competitors was highly commended by all judges.

Managing director at SPARKS and HIP Magazine Zoë Tanner said: “All the competitors should be immensely proud of themselves for taking part and competing. The standard of work has been incredible. We’re thrilled to see the Learner of the Year competitions grow year on year, and it’s encouraging to see the competition being supported by so many big names from the industry.”

The College celebrated a victory, with Kain Milroy securing the title of SPARKS Winner and Hari Hussain earning the runner-up position. In addition, Owen Stubbs achieved the runner-up spot for HIP Learner of the Year.

Vice Principal of Quality and Student Experience, Mohammed Ramzan, was full of praise for the event at the Green Energy Skills Centre saying: “Congratulations to all staff and students involved in such a fantastic event. This was an amazing opportunity for the College to be involved in and I would like to like to wish our students the best of luck on the next stage of the competition!”

Deputy head of School for Construction, Chris Lee, supported the organisation of the event and said: “It was a privilege to host the event this year and welcome competitors, Lecturers and Sponsors to the Centre. The Skills demonstrated by all competitors and the camaraderie between them was inspiring, each one a credit to their lecturer and college. Congratulations to the Winners and Runners-up of each competition. What an achievement!”

Each regional winner and overall runner-up will go on to compete in the grand finals, taking place April.

Zoë Tanner added: “I would like to say a very big thank you to Chris and the team at St Helens College for hosting the North West heat of HIP & SPARKS Learner of the Year - we were blown away by the incredible hospitality! It’s extremely rare for a college to take both first and second places in a heat, a huge congratulations to all your winners and we look forward to seeing you at the finals in April!”

SPARKS Northwest Learner of the Year:

Winner - Kian Milroy - St Helens College

Runner-up - Hari Hussain - St Helens College

HIP Northwest Learner of the Year:

Winner - Cole Hull - Cheshire College - South & West

Runner-up - Owen Stubbs - St Helens College

SPARKS Learner of the Year Gallery

2024 SPARKS Leaner of the Year North West


HIP Learner of the Year Gallery

2024 HIP Learner of the Year North West

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